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Board # 24 :"Was it Worth It?" Reassessing the Lasting Value of a LEED Credentialing Course to its Students a Few Years After Graduation

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Jennifer Gonser United States Military Academy, West Point

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MAJ Jennifer Gonser Jeremiah Stache is an instructor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY. He received his B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point; M.S. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a Masters of Philosophy in Engineering from University of Cambridge, England. Her research interests include construction engineering, sustainable design, infrastructure systems and engineering education.

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Todd Mainwaring P.E. United States Military Academy, West Point

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University education prepares students for the world that awaits them after graduation and inspires them for future learning. To this end, instructors strive to ensure their material is not just correct but current and relevant. While an entire program may receive feedback from industry on the value and relevance of its curriculum, it is very rare for an individual course or instructor to receive specific feedback. This paper seeks to understand if there is a significant difference in the perceived value of a course before, during and a few years after its completion from the student’s perspective. The results can enable a feedback loop that impacts how, or if, the class is marketed to future students. In academic year 2013, the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department launched an independent study course with the aim of credentialing its students in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Envision, two sustainability credentials recognized in the construction and design industry. This resource intensive course gives students an industry recognized skillset. However, with the high cost of LEED certification and the increased adoption of “green standards” into building codes, some in the industry are beginning to question if LEED has become redundant. Given the current environment, do former students still believe that the course was a valuable experience and should the Department continue to offer it? To clearly determine the value of the credentials to young professionals, the investigators sought input from recent graduates and their employers. Currently, there is no mechanism to capture if, and how well, these credentials are actually employed. This paper focuses on the perceived value of the course to the graduates through three distinct phases. First, how was the course marketed and what value did the developers and instructors imply students would gain from it? Secondly, how useful do the former students, now young professionals, feel the course has been in both terms of knowledge, or mindset, and the credentialing itself? Thirdly, knowing what they know now, would they recommend the course to future generations? In addition to the students’ perceptions, this paper also considers the perceived value of the credentials to their employers. The primary instruments are questionnaires, surveys and interviews of past students. Additionally, this paper considers student reflections, completed immediately following course completion and course development material. The literature review highlights feedback loops in education (focusing on ABET accreditation criteria) and briefly investigates the industry’s shifting perspectives on the value of LEED. This study is hampered by the relatively small number of course graduates, however, the findings can still inform how the instructors structure the balance of the course between the focus on teaching concepts and theory versus specific skills (LEED Credentialing).

Gonser, J., & Mainwaring, T. (2017, June), Board # 24 :"Was it Worth It?" Reassessing the Lasting Value of a LEED Credentialing Course to its Students a Few Years After Graduation Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27813

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